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Applying silicone to gap between wood floor and wall. Image Credit: Nikox2/Shutterstock.com

8 Uses of Silicone and Benefits

Learn more about how silicone is used and why it is valued as a material in manufacturing.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
July 27, 2022
 6 min read
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Silicone is a special, elastomer-type material that is used in numerous different industries and products. Silicone has many uses – from cosmetics and other consumer products to solar panels and paints.

What makes silicone such a versatile material is its unique properties that include: durability, flexibility, and thermal and environmental stability. The uses of silicones increasingly play a larger role in supporting the advancement and innovation of several industries.

This article will review 8 uses of silicone and then review its benefits to give a better understanding of how this material impacts and improves our world today.

The table below is a summary of the uses of silicone:

Uses of SiliconeDescription
Uses of Silicone

Cosmetics

Description

Silicone’s biocompatibility, color retention, and ability to spread makes it a great choice for use in cosmetics.

Uses of Silicone

Photovoltaic and Solar Panel Materials

Description

Silicone is used in photovoltaic and solar panels because of its adhesiveness, environmental stability, mechanical/chemical properties, and transparency. 

Uses of Silicone

Electrical Transmission Applications

Description

Silicone acts as a sealant, adhesive, or coating to protect electronics.

Uses of Silicone

Adhesives and Sealants

Description

Silicone is an excellent adhesive and sealant due to its wear and weather resistance and thermal stability.

Uses of Silicone

Construction and Renovation

Description

Silicone use in construction includes adhesives and sealants because of its excellent wear and weather resistance and thermal stability.

Uses of Silicone

Bakeware and Cookware

Description

Flexibility, antimicrobial properties, and ease of cleaning make silicone great for bakeware and cookware.

Uses of Silicone

Paints

Description

Silicone’s flexibility protects outdoor paint and coatings from cracking during freezing and thawing cycles.

Uses of Silicone

Goggles and Diving Masks

Description

Silicone’s light weight, flexibility, durability, and water-repellency make it great for swim gear such as goggles and diving masks.

Table. Uses of Silicone

1. Silicones Used in Cosmetics

Silicones help cosmetics, shampoos, and conditioners preserve luster. They aid in the application of cosmetics because they act as a solvent and carrier for products. Moreover, silicone provides a transparent, glossy feel, excellent biocompatibility, and rapid evaporation from the skin.

2. Silicones Are Used in Photovoltaic and Solar Panel Materials

Photovoltaic and solar panels use silicone as conductive adhesives. The material is also used as an encapsulant for solar panels, where its environmental stability and transparency help improve solar panel efficiency. Silicone’s excellent mechanical and chemical properties reduce overall repair costs and help prolong product life.

3. Silicones Are Used in a Number of Different Electrical Transmission Applications

Another use of silicone is in electronics. It’s used as a sealant, adhesive, or coating for various circuit components including connectors, capacitors, and transistors. Silicone materials are ideal for electronics because they protect circuit components from heat, shock, and debris. Its use leads to greater energy efficiency and connectivity.

4. Silicone Is Used in the Manufacturing of Adhesives and Sealants

Perhaps the most common uses of silicone are in adhesives and sealants. Silicone, whose primary ingredient is silica, becomes an adhesive through a series of heating and chemical mixing processes. Silicone is an excellent choice as an adhesive due to its chemical and weathering resistance and excellent thermal properties. The image below shows the use of silicone as an adhesive being dispensed using a caulking gun:

Slide 1 of 1
applying silicone adhesive
applying silicone adhesive
applying silicone adhesive

Applying silicone adhesive to connect mirror to aluminum.

Image Credit: noprati somchit/Shutterstock.com

5. Silicones Are Used Extensively in the Construction and Renovation of Commercial and Residential Structures

In construction, silicones are often used as coatings, adhesives, or sealants to help insulate buildings and increase energy efficiency. Silicones are ideal for this application due to their durability, weather resistance, flexibility, ability to bond many different materials, and excellent thermal insulation characteristics.

6. Silicone Is Used in Bakeware and Cookware

Silicone products are commonly found in bakeware and cookware. It’s used in products such as baking molds, kitchenware, and oven mitts. This is because silicone is flexible, has antimicrobial properties, is highly heat-resistant, and is easy to clean. 

7. Silicone-Enhanced Paints Are Used to Maintain External Coatings

Silicone-enhanced paints add flexible characteristics to exterior coatings of painted surfaces to help withstand freezing and thawing cycles without cracking. Additionally, they’re used on road surfaces and maritime vessels to reduce the environmental effects of oils, gasoline, salt, and acid rain.

8. Silicones Are Used To Keep Water Out of Goggles and Diving Masks

Various products used in water-based activities utilize silicone. It’s used in goggles, diving masks, and flippers to keep out water. It is also great for use in swimwear, not only for its excellent sealing ability, but for its lightweight, durability, and natural water-repellency.

When Was the First Time Silicone Was Applied?

Silicones were initially developed in 1927 for industrial use. After 20+ years of experimenting with the synthesis of silicone compounds, silicone was first used commercially and marketed in 1950 as “Silly Putty.” Afterward, the uses of silicone expanded into various industries. It was even used in the soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots as he first set foot on the Moon and in modules of various spacecraft to protect both crew and computer systems.

What Is Silicone’s Most Beneficial Application?

Perhaps the most beneficial application of silicone materials is its use in adhesives, coatings, and sealants. Because of silicone’s flexibility, wear and environmental resistance, and thermal stability, it’s used in a variety of buildings and products we use every day.

In construction, silicone helps insulate buildings from the elements. It helps improve energy efficiency and maintain comfortable temperatures for both people and machinery. Additionally, silicone’s use as a coating helps buildings, roads, and bridges retain structural integrity and resist corrosion. 

In electronics, its use as an adhesive and protective coating for circuit components enables the functioning of high-tech equipment such as smartphones and computers. 

Without silicone, many products and structures we’re accustomed to today may not be possible.

What Are the Silicone Components That Make it Useful?

The components of silicone that make it useful are the Si-O bonds and organic groups that bond to the silicon within the molecule. It is Si-O bonds that allow for silicone’s material properties such as excellent heat resistance, environmental stability, and chemical & wear resistance.

Possible organic groups within silicones include methyl, phenyl, and vinyl. Silicone’s properties depend on the choice of this organic group. For example, silicones containing the methyl group exhibit the characteristics of excellent heat resistance, environmental stability, and chemical & wear resistance. Meanwhile, the presence of both methyl and phenyl groups can make silicones perform better in low-temperature environments.

Who Are the Most Common Silicone Users?

Industries such as construction commonly use silicone. Industrial coatings, adhesives & sealants, and offshore drilling are typical uses and applications. Silicones are also commonly found in cosmetics, consumer goods, and electronics.

Is Silicone Beneficial?

Yes. Silicone is beneficial to several industries and provides substantial socioeconomic benefits to the world. Without silicone, many homes and businesses would be uncomfortable and hot; also many everyday products and devices would simply not exist. 

Is Silicone Suitable for a Wide Range of Applications?

Yes. Silicones are suitable for a wide range of applications due to their unmatched flexibility and thermal and environmental stability. Possible applications of silicone are seemingly endless – from freezing to sweltering temperatures, from underwater to outer space.

For more information, see our guide on the properties of silicone.


Summary

This article summarized 8 of the most common uses of silicone and the benefits that this material offers to different applications. To learn more about the uses of silicone contact a Xometry sales representative or materials expert for guidance.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities and value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

Disclaimer

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.